Return to the River

I had to get out of the apartment.

Saturday afternoon, August 19, 2017. I was totally bored with sitting in front of the computer. This year I set myself a goal of walking at least 3 miles a day, but it’s hard during the summer when it’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. At 4 p.m. this afternoon, it was 104, but I decided to go out into it anyway. It has been a long time since I walked on the Salt River bottom in the green belt urban wilderness the city has created down there. I put on my hat, took some water, got in the car, and drove to a parking area on south 7th Avenue.


To the northeast you can see the towers of downtown Phoenix.


To the northwest you can see the riverbed and the road that leads down into it. With water vegetation flourishes in the Arizona desert, and the rivers are lined with trees and water weeds of all sorts. Visible on the horizon is a sand and gravel mine. There are several of those along the borders of the Salt River.

Here I am at the beginning of my walk. As you can see, I’m already starting to feel better for being out of the house. There is usually a lot of wildlife visible down here. On my trip I saw a ground squirrel, a lizard, a cottontail rabbit, and innumerable birds and insects including purple-bodied dragonflies.  Tracks visible in the dirt and mud included coyotes, horses, dogs, humans, and bicycles.


When I got down to river level I found a surprise. Some people were having a photo shoot of some sort beneath the 7th Avenue bridge. A photographer, a woman, and apparently a baby, because I heard it crying later. I did not interrupt their work, but I did watch for a couple of minutes.


From the bridge I walked east toward Central Avenue. I chose this particular stretch of river because I thought it would have the most shade at this time of day. If you have to walk in the desert in summer, you should bring water, a hat to shield your head from the direct rays of the sun, and take advantage of what shade there is.


Here’s a look back at the 7th Avenue bridge.


Usually the desert is full of flowers, but about the only ones I saw were these tiney white clusters on a tree. My camera let me down and focussed deeper than I wanted it too, so the flowers are blurry. Grrrrr! Well, I am not perfect, and my works don’t have to be perfect either. You can still see the complexity of the riverside vegetation in this picture.


As I walked I began to see a lot of dragonflies. I tried to take a picture of one that landed on a leaf only a couple of feet in front of me. Can you see it? They blend into their background so well, as do most desert creatures. It is near the center of the picture.


It is 7 blocks from 7th Avenue to Central, not quite a mile. I actually walked a little more than a mile because of side trips and wandering back and forth in a sort of sine wave path instead of a straight line. I moved from one shady patch to the next, and they varied from one side of the trail to the other. It was along this stretch of the journey that I saw the lizard and the rabbit.

I knew there was a visual treat waiting for me when I reached my under bridge goal.


There is a marvelous mural of ground-dwelling desert owls on the south side of the Central Avenue bridge. This guy is my favorite, and this was my Picture of the Day for August 19, 2017. (I try to post on Facebook every evening, and one of the things I try to post is the best picture that I took that day. If you’re reading this blog, you are invited to follow my continuing adventures (such as they are) on Facebook.)


I counted them. There are 14 different owls in this mural. What a bunch of characters!


In addition to earthly animals, I am always watching for numinous or spirit creatures. This afternoon I was lucky enough to see a sky-griffin. It’s in the clouds, just emerging, rampant at the moment, posing for me perhaps. Perhaps not. The nature of the spirit world is that it has its own separate existence. It’s just there. Sometimes you can see it; sometimes you can’t. Wizards (even minor trollish wizards like me) are more often aware of it than most people.


I have achieved my goal for the afternoon. I am standing beneath the Central bridge, looking at magical owls. Best moment of the day. From here, everything is now a quest to get back home. It is not enough to go out into the world, you must also come home from it to make it a successful journey.

I took several more photos, but the more I think about it, the more I think that I don’t need to comment on the rest of the journey. So this is what I saw as I departed.




The elves are always rhapsodizing about their white trees. Well, here’s one, and it’s apparently dying. This photo was taken simply for the elves who may be reading this. I see you, and I see  your landmarks.


Back at the 7th Avenue bridge. The dancer and her photographer are gone. I saw another man, but he moved off as I came into view.


Troll country.


Back in my car. I made it. This journey is over. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me. There is so much that you missed by not actually being there with me, but I’ve shown you what I could.

Onward, my friends.


Posted August 20, 2017 by atroll

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